Friday, June 30, 2017

Each of Us is Christ

In case you haven't noticed this before, and I am sure many people have, each of us is Christ.

That is to say that each of us is quite convinced we are persecuted for the "truth" of our beliefs, even to the point we feel we are being "crucified" for them, metaphorically if not literally.

So we are not only each experiencing, at least metaphorically anyway, the life and death, but indeed the passion and resurrection, of Christ. And we rise again from the dead, so to speak, the way the lotus sheds its skin, and the caterpillar becomes the butterfly.

We rise like the phoenix from the ashes of our "beliefs" and, all too often, end up creating new one's that are different from the beliefs that proceeded them in name only. Just look at Judaism and Christianity for example.

The Catholic Church has risen to become far more powerful than the Sanhedrin ever was, and has murdered far more people to defend its authority over truth than the Sanhedrin or the Hebrews in the whole of the Old Testament.

The difference between the New Testament and the Old Testament, then, is that the former focuses on the life of Jesus, while the latter, instead of doing the same thing with Abraham or Moses, focuses on the historical story of an entire people.

Christianity is the story of a man for whom more blood was spilled across the centuries than in all of the Old Testament combined. And each person the Church put to death, no doubt felt very much like Christ standing before the Sanhedrin. And the Church put each of those people to death because it felt like it was being threatened by someone as who challenged it's "truth" and it's authority,  as much as that heretic called Christ.

But of course none of this is the sole property of religion, since religion is simply the very same kind of thinking we use in every other area of thought, from academics to art to science and beyond. So each of us feels like a Christ for our political "beliefs," or our beliefs about what kind of music is best, or whether one scientist is smarter than another, or virtually anything else we are as certain as any martyr ever was.

The story of Christ, if it is anything then, is the story of dying to that one possession that possesses us like no other ever has, or ever could, or ever will, which is our "beliefs," so that we may emerge triumphantly from behind the great stone that marks the door of our internment, and leave the relics of our old beliefs behind like the strips of linen cloth that Christ is said to have left behind in his grave.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Trouble With Original Sin

Assuming we are born with a penchant for murdering each other is just an excuse we give for murdering each other. 

Only God Makes Genocide Moral

Perhaps the greatest "miracle" of religion is that it has convinced so many billions of people that the God who threw us into this gladiatorial arena of life and death, should be regarded as necessarily "benevolent" for having done so.
Many Christians often claim that a "belief" in God is not only necessary for people to know the difference between "right and wrong," but to act accordingly as well, "for you will be judged by God at the end of time." This is true, even though the idea of "God" such Christians are referring to necessarily operates outside of any such distinctions. And he operates outside of those distinctions by being something - in fact, the ONLY thing -  that is per-determined by Christians as necessarily "good" a priori, so that anything such a "God" does, must therefore be good, even if it would be "evil" if anyone else engaged in anything even close to it. 

If Joseph Stalin or Pol Pot kill millions of people to advance Communism, for example, they are pure evil, but if God kills basically everyone on the planet for being the sinful bastards He created them to be, and since God is necessarily always "good," He's seen as glorious and loving and righteous and wise and .... you get the point.

Ask a "believer" about why they feel the need to exempt God from the same moral standard they wish to apply to everyone else, and you sometimes get a robotic reply that  "God is incapable of evil," as if what you just said didn't fully compute in their mind. 

It is not that the Christian denies that God "murdered" virtually everyone on the planet with flood of Noah, according to their Bible, it is that the Christian can not bring them self to consider that a "good God" could ever be accused of committing "murder," even when He engages in things that would clearly be murder if anyone else did it.

With regards to abortion, for example, some Christians insist that a "person" is born at the moment of inception, even in the zygote, and it is therefore "murder" to have an abortion, even of what amounts to little more than a clump of evolving cells that are hardly distinguishable from the many animals we slaughter for our food and amusement every day.

But if the Christian "God" kills everyone on the planet with a flood, or sends his "chosen people" to slaughter some pagan tribe for their 'horrible religious practices' (I have never understood how the "horrible religious practices" of the pagans could possibly have been worse than a bunch of religious fanatics committing genocide), that's not "murder," it's God's moral wrath, or something like that.

That's what makes Religion so paradoxically interesting. It purports to help people understand the difference between good and evil, even as it often only makes it harder for people who "believe" in such a God to ever know the difference. And this is especially true when it comes to "beliefs" that emanate from such an amoral Being. The Christian can readily admit that burning someone alive at the stake is murder, but at times has difficulty admitting it is murder if God does it as well.

 It is to assume, in other words, that whatever God does, it must be good, because it was done by God, and God is ONLY "good." And if there is any evidence that could be interpreted otherwise, the problem is the interpreter, not whether what God did is objectively "good" or "evil." It is this assumption, in short, that instantly turns moral absolutists regarding humanity, into moral relativists regarding God. And by exempting God of any moral culpability for the "murders" He engages in, the hunted defend their "beliefs" in the benevolence of the Hunter.   

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Difference Between the Rich & The Poor

When Jesus says "the poor you will always have with you, "  what he was trying to say was that as long as we have a system of money, we will always have a system that allows some to have all and others to have nothing.

The theology of money is economics, of course, of whom Adam Smith is considered to be the Abraham of American Capitalism, and Milton Friedman is the Messiah of the "Money Changers" in the temple of Wall Street, who politicians everywhere worship like a golden calf.

Wealth and poverty demark the boundaries between Heaven and Hell, with a "middle class" that languishes in the purgatory of always fearing the one and hoping for the other. But they do not constitute immutable objective realities, like gravity or the seasons, but are wholly man made. And they are wholly man made out of a clever means of power and control, which is based on nothing but a "belief" in money.

 Make no mistake, there is no real "god" that humanity truly "trusts in," serves more devoutly, and is ultimately willing to kill and die for, more than money.

The difference between the rich and the poor can only be assessed by having an awareness of the difference between the two. Or, to put it more simply, a 3 year old child does not know what it means to be wealthy or impoverished any more than a ten year old, or even an 80 year old, if they have only ever known their own experience.

This is also true of ethnicity or even religion and culture in general. If a person has no knowledge that there is anything other than what they have experienced every day of their life, they would have no reason to suspect there was anything different from themselves anywhere in the world, and that their own experience with reality was therefore no different from anyone else's. In fact, it is this very assumption that so often leads two people to argue, since both may be assuming the other's experience with reality is just like their own, even though it never really is.

But money allows for a mingling of realities, with great wealth and poverty being separated in some neighborhoods in America by nothing but a street or a set of train tracks.  Like fields clearly lined on a farm, so rich and poor neighborhoods are mostly divided into different sections across America. To assume that those sections are simply the result of city planners or zoning restrictions, is to assume that cities may be man made but money is divine (or at least divinely distributed). And that's largely what people like Joel Olsteen and Mitt Romney want you to believe.

In truth, the only difference between the rich and the poor is the belief (i.e. delusion) that some people have a (perhaps "divine") right to having more of something, or having better access to something, than others.

The "birds of the air do not worry," as it says in Matt 6:25-34, because they do not depend upon money to buy food, but instead take their food directly from the bountiful earth, without a middle man betting, taking a commission, or collecting interest on the transaction. And that's why, unlike the "birds of the air" and "the flowers of the field," everyone is forced to "worry about" having food to eat, clothes to wear, a place to live, and access to healthcare, "tomorrow."

Indeed, the "poor" we will always have with us, as Christ said, because we all have a great deal to "worry about tomorrow," thanks to that God in which we so dearly trust - money.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Torture of the Comfy Chair: How a Comfort Zone is like an Iron Maiden

The comedy troupe Monty Python once did a skit about the Spanish Inquisition, only instead of using the kind of actual torture instruments relied upon to convert people of God's love and existence by the actual Spanish Inquisition, the torture instrument used by Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition was a  "comfy chair."

That we think of a comfy chair as being the very opposite of a torture device is actually illustrative more of how our own mind tends to categorize things than the actual difference between a comfy chair and a torture device. And this is because, in many ways, a comfy chair can be one of the worst torture devices there is.

I remember watching a Navy Seal show marathon one weekend with my room mate, where both of us say on our respective couches for no less than 10 straight hours watching people pushing themselves through excruciating exercises during boot camp training, just so they could become Navy Seals.

After that 10 hour session, our backs were killing us. The pain we felt, which was obviously nothing compared to what Navy Seal recruits were being put through, made me realize just how much a "comfortable chair" can become increasingly painful over time. Like Chinese water torture, where the first 1000 drops are completely harmless, but that 1001 drop sounds like an atomic bomb went off in your head, so extended periods of time in a "comfort zone"  -or even in a comfortable position on a couch - can become increasingly painful over time.

And perhaps the greatest pain of all is living in a comfort zone over the course of decades, all out of a deep desire to secure the basic elements needed to survive in the modern world (like having an income, health insurance, planned retirement, etc), is waking up and recognizing what might have been, but for the fear that kept us chained to the apron strings of one job or living arrangement or another.

Like Burt Reynolds says in the movie Deliverance, "there's no risk" when we are insured. But it is that risk that is required for us to move to something in life that doesn't feel like we are confined to the comfort of sitting on a couch for 10 hours straight, let alone 10 years.

God & The Pleasure of Pain

It never seems to occur to people that, if we are made in the image and likeness of God, then perhaps the pleasure we enjoy from inflicting pain is simply a reflection of God as well. After all, God certainly seemed to enjoy the great flood and the brutal murder of His own Jesus, at least as much as He enjoyed the Crusades and the Inquisitions. And even if God didn't "enjoy" all of that, we certainly seem to. Just look at the 20th century alone.

Toward that end, I have never understood the great flood story of how God drowned everyone on earth for being so evil, since everything that has happened since that time has essentially played out like Cain slaughtering Able, much in the same way the Sanhedrin slaughtered Christ, writ large.

If you consider that all of the starvation in the world, and the wars, the genocides, the diseases, the slavery, and the poverty and brutality (and what is poverty but a highly designed man made system of brutality?), as well as the growing threat of total global nuclear or environmental destruction , are all things that humanity imposes and threatens to impose upon itself, why would there be any need for "God" to destroy us all for being so evil, when it is so clear that we are quite perfectly capable, and indeed joyfully willing, to destroy ourselves?

Perhaps it is because God derives a great deal of pleasure from inflicting pain on mere human beings (just look what His "divine plan" included for Jesus, the apostles, saints, martyrs, etc).

Do you doubt this? Well, when you consider that everything on the planet is forced to eat everything else on the planet to survive (an experience made only all the worse by the fact that we can feel pain and fear), when God clearly could've created complex life that runs on nothing but air and water (to suggest otherwise is like Rockefeller arguing that cars could never run on electric batteries!), it's hard to understand how any of that pain and suffering can teach us anything about a Heaven where no such "pain and suffering" exists at all.

So why do people need to experience pain in this life? Is it because we "must" all unite in the suffering of Christ in paying for "the sins of the world," as if the sacrifice of Christ was so truly inadequate that it requires that humans everywhere offer up their own suffering as well, to say nothing of the suffering of animals inflicted by humanity (which apparently serves no real spiritual purpose at all, as far as God is concerned)? Is our pain and suffering supposed to be a foreshadowing of a damnation to come  if we do not "obey" the rules (as conveniently defined by men who promise us they know exactly what God wants, and who only ensure us of why it is NEVER what anyone else says)?

And is there no greater pleasure than that of being cruel to be kind? Why else would Inquisitions so joyously torture people and burn them alive, for their own good? Indeed, God wanting others to share in the suffering of Christ to help redeem the world only clearly demonstrates that even the brutal murder of His own son was not enough to slake God's blood lust and desire for pain.

Just consider how football, boxing, MMA, and many other contact sports, all illustrate just how much people enjoy inflicting pain on others, within some agreed upon parameters of course, and having pain inflicted upon us by others as well, within those same parameters.  Perhaps it is simply the fact that the physical pain experienced on the field is a price worth paying for even just a chance at experiencing the pleasure of winning the game, or reaching Heaven.

Such a concept is very much the same one that makes Christians and Muslims everywhere so eager and willing to suffer anything that God, like the serial killer from the movie Saw, included in this worldly torture chamber we call existence.

That Christians all consider life to be "a gift," only illustrates the willingness to wear blinders for their beliefs, especially since the "gift of life" only ever comes with a guaranteed death sentence that we can only hope is quick and painless, even though it so often isn't. Indeed, we even force people to experience the pain and horror of dying for far, far, longer than was ever previously possible, thanks to modern medicine and technology, and a horribly misplaced sense of "morality; and all in the name of defending "the gift of life."

In a very real sense, then, keeping people alive, indeed forcing them to stay alive for fear of helping to usher them to their "final reward," is very much like burning people we believe to be witches at the stake, out of a misplaced sense that we may actually be helping to purify their souls through the pain they experience of being burned alive, so that we may reunite such wayward sinners with their loving Father in heaven.

And all so we can be rewarded by that Father figure for having the moral rectitude of treating such sinners with as much affection as the Sanhedrin showed to Christ, or a serial killer shows his victims.     


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Religion & The Paradox of Submission

Religion teaches children that they should be independent from their biological parents, but totally dependent upon their "spiritual" parents, Mary and God/Jesus. (That Jesus is both Mary's son and God, makes the Bible a bit like Oedipus, of course.)

It is also a religion that teaches people to love freedom and hate authoritarianism on the one hand, even as it requires them to be submissive to the will of an authoritarian God (and his Catholic Church, at least spiritually speaking anyway) in order to achieve "true freedom."

That a person can only be "free" by hypnotizing them self into believing they must always "obey" an authoritarian God, only demonstrates the miracle of how the human mind can make sense of pretty much anything it wants to believe, no matter how paradoxical or self contradictory it may be.

Such a claim is not merely an indictment of religion, of course, but of the human mind itself. For it is how all institutions, be they private or political, religious or financial, "sells' people their own slavery, by convincing them that by doing so, they are purchasing their own "freedom" in the process.

And that is why Religion is so interesting, for it trains people to "trust" implicitly in people who would rape their own children and rob them blind for their own enrichment, all in exchange for the comforting thought that the agony of death, although a horrible experience in its own right, is not the end of life (although, if you end up in Hell, you will surely wish it was).

And this kind of implicit trust then leads us to trust kings and queens, politicians and economists, bankers and financial analysts,  military leaders  and wealthy businessmen, and even priests and atheists, as long as they all say what we so long to hear.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Have You Ever Noticed...

Have you ever noticed that the American Revolution is essentially the story of every conflict there is, was, or has ever been?

And our interpretation of that conflict boils down to our "beliefs" about which group of people - the indigenous or the foreigners - should rule.

And the ones we always think should rule are the ones we think are most like ourselves.

Friday, June 16, 2017

You Cannot Truly Love Someone You Fear

Love and fear are probably the two most powerful human forces we know of. But they are clearly not the same thing, and are very often the very opposite of each other.

But God is a paradoxical figure who commands (how can a person be expected to "love" on command?) that we engage in the paradox of both loving Him, and fearing Him, lest we be thrown into a lake of fire for failing to do so to His majesty's liking.

More interesting, however, is how this clear contradiction, is never a problem for the Christian, who is so afraid of the fires of hell and the immorality of secular society, that they actually mistake their "fear" for a "love" of God who will save them from both, even though He created both.

There is probably not a Christian alive who would ever "love" a Muslim Shah or Caliph or King, simply because he commanded them to, or be tortured and executed. Yet such a Christian expects the Muslim, and all others for that matter, to willfully accept that they must love God for the very same reasons, or be tortured and executed for eternity.

While the water of fear can be miraculously be turned into the wine of "love," as we saw with people like Charles Manson, Stalin, and Hitler, that doesn't mean it's the healthiest way to "love" someone.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Fatal Yet Inescapable Problem with Beliefs

For "believers" the world over, the entire point of life comes down to nothing but what you believe. Regardless of basically ANYTHING else, one's life boils down to simply standing before a "God," who will judge how a person should spend eternity based on their "beliefs."

Those beliefs come down to having "believed" in the right religion, or the right god, or the right morality, or the right whatever. If anyone FAILS to "believe" the right things, then, they're thrown into hell for being such a dolt.

But if life is all about necessarily having the right "beliefs" about God, religion, morality, etc, than it can only work if everyone on the planet is willing to accept - necessarily! - that someone, somewhere, HAS the right beliefs. And more importantly, that person has to know exactly how to apply those beliefs in an ever changing and increasingly complex world.

Of course, the Catholics have their Pope, who can speak "infallibly" about such matters, although he rarely ever does. That he rarely ever does alone tells us something about the problem with this plan. For as the world gets more complicated, the pope seems to have less and less to say "infallibly" about it all.

Even Pope Francis is condemned by countless Catholics who are all convinced that they KNOW with all of the infallibility of a Pope, that God finds "homosexuality" to be an abomination, even if actual Pope is too stupid or too afraid to say it.

The biggest problem with "beliefs," however, is that they are simply that - beliefs! They cannot be tested, or proven to be "true," or in any way verified to be of any relevance at all. Sure, people willingly feed themselves to the lions for such "beliefs," but that is perfect evidence for why such "beliefs" should make people nervous in the first place.

In a world that runs on "beliefs," then, anyone can simply choose to "believe" whatever the hell they want. And like a preference for the taste of liver and onions, no one can say such "beliefs" are wrong, simply because they happen to find such beliefs distasteful themselves.

Since they are, like one's tastes, simply beliefs, and nothing more.

But the religious "believer" has become convinced that their entire existence revolves around making sure that EVERYONE has the RIGHT beliefs, so they can spend eternity in paradise (maybe), lest they be thrown in hell for all eternity for having the wrong "beliefs," even if it's a belief as innocent as thinking you can blaspheme the holy spirit, which is a sin the Bible says is a sure fire way to end up in hell butt quick!

But since a belief is inside someones head, and since our mind is an ever evolving thing that cannot help but continually play with all of the ideas in contains like an infinite sided rubiks cube, a "belief" is never a static thing. And even if it was, it is NOT something that anyone can ALWAYS keep in mind, let alone perfectly, and always know how to apply in every complex and impossible situation one is forced to confront, and often at a moments notice.  

The Christian and the Muslim, however, not only "believe" in their "beliefs," but they also believe those "beliefs" will enable mere mortal minds to overcome any confluence of obstacles, including lack of sleep or food, or caffeine and sugar, etc,  so that a person may always, or mostly, know what the "will of God" requires of them.

And if they fail to get it right, then they are judged for having given it the old college try, as it were.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Trouble with Marian Apparitions

 Mary, the Mother of God, is said to have appeared to many people over the years. One of which was the apparations at Fatima to three children in 1917.  But looking at the transcripts, one is left with the lingering sense of "what the fuck!?"

First off, sending Mary to appear to children is a bit like Bill Gates sending his mother to tell an employee that their department is under-performing, and the big guy upstairs is getting pissed off.

But aside from that, if we look at the transcripts, as I said, it gets even harder to believe. In fact, if these transcripts were provided to Christians from Muslims who claimed they were spoken by Mohammad (or his mother, Aminah bint Wahb) while he (or she) appeared to three shepherds, not a single Christian on the planet would take them seriously.  

For example, one of the children apparently asks Mary where some people they know have landed after they died, and Mary lets them know they're not all love'n it in the Golden Arches of Heaven.

"And Amelia?"
She is in purgatory.
Will you offer yourselves to God, and bear all the sufferings He sends you? In atonement for all the sins that offend Him? And for the conversion of sinners?
REALLY?? "You're friends in purgatory, now are you gonna suffer what my master wants or not!?" And didn't Jesus's crucifixion "atone for all the sins that offend Him?" How much more "suffering" does he need? And what's that say about purgatory, or even hell?

To this request, the children reply:

"Oh, we will, we will!"
REALLY?? Talk about Stockholm Syndrome! How is this not coerced? How is this not a battered wife syndrome, or learned helplessness behavior? What find of a "father" wants his own children to suffer for the "sins" being committed against him by his other children? What the Fuck!!!??

Then Mary assures them of just how horrible they can expect it to be (but Christians want people to "love life" nevertheless):
Then you will have a great deal to suffer, but the grace of God will be with you and will strengthen you.
That's awfully nice of God to give His grace to us while he makes us suffer. What a pal!

The kids then ask:

"Will you take us to heaven?"
Yes, I shall take Jacinta and Francisco soon, but you will remain a little longer, since Jesus wishes you to make me known and loved on earth. He wishes also for you to establish devotion in the world to my Immaculate Heart.

What?! What the hell kind of Ego trip is this? Mary needs to be known? Isn't she already known? So, she wants to be the Paris Hilton of religious mothers? 
"Must I remain in the world alone?"
Not alone, my child, and you must not be sad. I will be with you always, and my Immaculate Heart will be your comfort and the way which will lead you to God.
Wait a second! I thought Jesus was "the way" that leads people to God? She never even mentions Jesus. Instead, it's all about her own "Immaculate Heart." Something seems rotten in Denmark.

Then they record this:

"The moment she said the last words, opening her hands, She transmitted to us, for the second time, the reflection of that intense light. In it we felt we were submerged in God. Jacinta and Francisco seemed to be in that part of the light which was rising to Heaven, and I in the part spreading over the earth. In front of the palm of Our Lady's right hand was a heart encircled with thorns which appeared to pierce it. We understood it was the Immaculate Heart of Mary offended by the sins of mankind, craving reparation."

WTF????? First, mankind must worry about offending God, now it has to worry about offending the Immaculate Heart of Mary on top of that? Does the fact that Mary now "craves reparations" for the sins of mankind mean people can expect to have a hell of a lot longer sentences in Purgatory?  

In July of 1917, Mary allegedly says..

"You must come here every month, and in October I will tell you who I am and what I want. I will then perform a miracle so that all may believe."

But again.. WTF? If there's a World Wide War going on, why not "perform a miracle so that all may believe" in the first place, in order to stop that war, instead of insisting that these children continue to come, every month, to a place so Mary can let the world know all about her "Immaculate Heart" and how offended she is? How does this seriously make any damn sense to people? 

 Then the transcript say...
Thus assured, Lucia began to place before the Lady the petitions for help that so many had entrusted to her. The Lady said gently that she would cure some, but others she would not cure.
"And the crippled son of Maria da Capelinha?"
No, neither of his infirmity nor of his poverty would he be cured, and he must be certain to say the Rosary with his family every day.
 Really?!?! So, she has the power to cure, but decides it's best to only cure some, and then perform a miracle, so that everyone will "believe." Ya know what would REALLY make sense? Cure everyone! How about that for a "miracle" that would "make people believe"?!

AND.. why exactly must Maria's son "be certain to say the Rosary with his family every day," if you just told her God has no intention of helping this kid out of his infirmity or his poverty? Why are Christians so okay with this? And if you ask them why, the emotional gesticulations they will employ attempting to defend the "morality" of such a 'Mother" toward her children are truly frightening.

I mean, if this is a measure of how Mother Mary is toward her children, she seems more like Susan Smith , the South Carolina woman who drowned her 14 month old son Alex and 3 year old son Michael by driving her car into a lake in 1994.

Again.. Mary is alleged to have said....
Another case recommended by Lucia to the Lady's assistance was a sick woman from Atougia who asked to be taken to heaven.
Tell her not to be in a hurry. Tell her I know very well when I shall come to fetch her.
Make sacrifices for sinners, and say often, especially while making a sacrifice: O Jesus, this is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
 AGAIN... the offenses are committed agaisnt Mary here, NOT God or Jesus? I smell a rat.

Mary then allegedly says at some point... 

You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. It is to save them that God wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.

 Well, MAYBE, just MAYBE, when Jesus died on the cross, and supposedly reopened the gates of heaven that had been shut when Adam and Eve fell from grace... MAYBE, if God REALLY wanted to "save" "the souls of poor sinners," he could've CLOSED THE GATES OF HELL at the same time.

And by "poor" do we mean income bracket? Because if we look around America (and even the world, by and large) the kind of "economic" kingdom being set up by Christians clearly puts the "poor" in hell alright!

And then there's this..
This war will end (meaning WW I), but if men do not refrain from offending God, another and more terrible war will begin during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night that is lit by a strange and unknown light [this occurred on January 28, 1938], you will know it is the sign God gives you that He is about to punish the world with war and with hunger, and by the persecution of the Church and the Holy Father. 

So... for the "sins of the world," the same sins that God heaped upon his son Jesus with a savage torture and killing, Mary is saying God is going to punish NOT only the world (he promised no more world wide floods, remember, but he left on the table the option of world wide war, or two, or three, or...)  but more specifically, his own Church and Pontiff?!?! 

God, in other words, is going to torture HIS FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS, according to this passage, for the "sins of the world," in the same way he tortured and killed his own son for the same thing. 

The TRUE miracle here is that Christians never ONCE think to EVER question ANY of this! EVER! 

But change the names, and tell them it's a transcript of Mary to a Muslim girl, and Christians around the world would find even the slightest spelling or grammatical error as proof enough that the entire thing is nothing but a complete fraud. 


Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Pros & Cons of Thinking About Religion

I think too much. And in an information society, this habit of thinking too much can make a person's natural curiosity feel like quicksand. But that only happens "if," and after, a person realizes they think too much, and they begin to notice how much their own "desire to know" everything - a "desire" which led Adam & Eve loose Eden in a gamble with a serpent - can potentially sabotage all of their other desires.

Religion is, to my mind at least, the perfect example of this perfect paradox of thinking too much. On the one hand, the rituals, teachings, and beliefs of religion, serve to make "thinking" easier regarding morality, death, existence, love, and so on. Hence, a person can rest assured that their life has meaning, that their "salvation" is secured (as well as it can be), and that justice will be meted out to all perfectly in the end.

On the other hand, religion assures that same person that they can only rest their mind from worrying about such questions, by obsessively overthinking about not only God and their religion specifically, and far, far more than anything else, but also about all those who dare to threaten both (and hence the person's comfortable assurance of salvation by extension), by being selfish and heretical enough to question the legitimacy of either one.

In short, religion says, "don't worry about those things" (your job, the meaning of life, the nature of death, etc) "worry about these things!" (your salvation, your understanding of your religion and rote memorization of a bible or Koran or whatever, did you pray enough, did you think about Jesus or Mohammad enough, etc etc).

So while religion can help to simplify a person's life in some ways, it can complicate it in others.

In fact, religion actually encourages us to engage in as much overthinking about God and religion as possible.  Some people even seem to compete with each other about this, to see who thinks about God and their religion more. And the ones that obsess about those ideas the most are left alone to shape the minds of our children. That's some scary stuff. 

People who go through Alcoholics Anonymous programs to kick the habit of drinking too much, often discover that their AA program boils down to swapping alcohol for the "belief" in the Almighty. "Believers" see the ability of a person to kick one by becoming addicted to the other as proof that God is real, while unbelievers see it only as proof that the placebo effect is real.

Of course, not everyone who goes through AA programs necessarily becomes a "true believer," but it is interesting to note that one of the reasons many people become alcoholics in the first place is because of how stressful and chaotic life can be, and the drugs or the alcohol can provide a release from thinking about it all too much, which is the same thing religion does for many.

And if you suggest to a person who has escaped the hell of the addiction into the heaven of their beliefs, that their "beliefs" may not be true, what they hear on an emotional level, is a threat to send them back to hell. And that's just not something they want to think about. Hell, neither do I!   


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Fostering Our Dependence on God

One of the great paradoxes almost universally overlooked by stalwart Christian parents the world over, is how such parents strive to teach their children how to be independent in life but dependent in religion, as if the latter is the only and necessary means of obtaining the former. In fact, Conservative Christians loath the idea that anyone should be dependent upon "big government" for anything at all, even as they practically demand that everyone is, and should be, dependent upon God (i.e. their Church and their religion) for everything!

What parent thinks it is best to raise a child to forever need to rely on their parents? What parent thinks the best way to raise a child is by first teaching the child they are flawed and sinful, but by devoting themselves to loving and worshiping them alone, the parent promises to make that child better?  And yet, this is exactly what St. Augustine is applauded for doing to Christians.

Basically, St. Augustine argued that everyone bares the stain of Adam & Eve's "original sin" of disobedience to God, in the Garden of Eden. Thankfully, humanity was able to obtain forgiveness for that "sin" by savagely murdering God himself, in the form of Jesus, and by doing so, all was made right with the world (except for all of the brutal wars and sin that has raged around the world ever since - apparently the "Jesus fix" didn't take so well).

Unlike St. Augustine's belief that everyone was born with the stain of original sin (that God, like a doctor being stingy with his cures, choose to withhold partially from Mary and totally from Jesus  - but NO ONE ELSE!) Pelgaius disagreed, and felt that people were not encumbered by the sins of those who came before them. Pelgaius's view was defended by his disciple Caelestius and finally Julian of Eclanum, whom Augustine battled with theologically up to his death in 430 A. D.

The Original Sin of St. Augustine

What St. Augustine was really battling, however, was not Plegaius, Caelestius, or Julian of Eclanum, but his own sins in the brothels of Rome. 

St. Augustine had spent his youth whoring around Rome, where there were brothels aplenty, only to become so disgusted with himself because of his unbridled sexual exploits that he became convinced that no one else should have to suffer the same pleasures that he had subjected himself too. 

As such, his entire theology is then informed by his own disgust for his own "original sin," which convinced him that there must be something in him that predisposes him to enjoying the pleasures of the flesh, that he had only so recently decided he had grown sick of. That predisposition must be "original sin," and not his own raging hormones.

This concept only ensured that people would need to depend on God, and more importantly, the worldly and wise Catholic Church (i.e. the new Sanhedrin) for the rest of their miserable lives. And all for simply a chance - just the lottery of a chance - that by obeying what this earthly Church commands, they will please God enough to NOT be thrown forever into a lake of fire. 

Yet fostering such complete emotional and intellectual dependence on a "Church" to cure and save people from a "disease" called "original sin" only empowers the Church at the expense of all those who, like St. Augustine, are unable and unwillingly to accept full responsibility for their own actions on the one hand, and that not everyone is exactly like St. Augustine (who was so clearly unable to control his sexual urges, and mostly because of his own raging hormones, that he decided women were were as bad as the devil) on the other.  

Monday, June 5, 2017

Of Love & War

So I am watching this movie and before you know it, these two girls start having sex with each other, and it was not a porn movie.

Fifty years ago, or less, people in America would've thrown a public fit about such a scene, but today it's only the staunchly Conservatives Christians who get their feathers all ruffled by it. For them, such scenes are NOT simply a reflection of reality (at least the reality for some people anyway, the way L. A. gang movies represented reality for poor black kids growing up in the ghetto) but intended to lure people into accepting the idea that homosexuality is NOT an abomination, as the Bible claims.

Putting aside the fact that the Bible is responsible for, and brags about, more genocide than Mein Kampf ever was, that such Christians stake their moral convictions on a book in which God repeatedly calls for genocide, the murdering of babies and women, and plenty other blood soaked horrors that makes a book by Stephen King look like a Harlequin romance novel, is only proof of how much the scotoma of  a person's confirmation bias can completely alter a person's perception from black to white.

In other words, the cross shaped plank that Christians willingly place in their own eye, and even worship, alters every horrible deed God or religion has ever been responsible for, and lays that blame squarely on people - people, who were often engaging in such horrors for the sake of defending their moral beliefs, no less!

But aside from all of that, here's what struck me - Christians are convinced (most of them anyway) that human beings are the most advanced species on the planet, if not the universe. And as such, that is proof that God created the universe specifically for us. BUT, even though we are so advanced, we are NOT allowed to engage in activities that virtually all of the other species of animals engage in, lest we be no better than them.

So, if other species engage in casual sex, or even homosexual acts, it is not a "sin" for them to do so, because they do not have souls, so the Christian will argue. Humans DO have souls, so we have to be very careful about who we have sex with, when, and for what ultimate purpose, so they argue further.

Christians don't seem to have much of a problem with war, however, especially if it is for God or Country. In fact, it's practically a secular SIN to suggest a person should NOT go and fight for their country, regardless of the reason (how soon we forget Vietnam).

But if one man lay with another man as he lay with a woman, or a woman with another woman as she lay with a man, Christians about loose their shit over this!

In other words, battlefields soaked in blood, like the Somme, or the Battle of Hastings or Kursk, are horrible tragedies,  but one's that God is only too willingly to forgive and accept. All of those poor bastards, who rush out to have themselves blown to bloody pieces, or who murder the "enemy" by the thousands, is simply doing "God's work," but a single act of homosexuality and God is beside Himself with rage and disgust, according to Christians.

The solution to all of this is simple enough, so it seems. Clearly then the problem is one of scale. If one man murders another it is a grave sin, but to murder by the hundreds and thousands in hordes, is a duty and even a delight to God, if the Old Testament and the Christian Crusades prove anything.

Hence, if it is a sin to commit murder, one on one, but almost a sacrament to kill for God on the battlefield, then it clearly follows that if it is a sin for one man to lay with another man as with a woman, then it must be a sacrament for horders of men to engage in all out orgies by the hundreds and the thousands.

Now it all makes sense. 

Why God Is All Too Human

If a ant or a gorilla suddenly gained the same sense of self awareness that humans have (and it's not a proven fact that they do not already) would their first questions be, "why am I here?," " where do I come from?" and "what's the meaning of life?"

Well, only if we expect that they think exactly like we do. Consider how much like a human being, human beings presume God to be.

Assuming, or really presuming, that God created human beings is NOT to think like a God, but to think exactly like a human being. After all, if we find a watch, we assume it was made by a watch maker, who happens to be and think exactly like ourselves, at least on some level. And why? Because we "make" things.

Hence, to say "God made everything" is simply to demonstrate how imprisoned by our own human perspective we really are. But would not a species that has no need for making watches imagine a "god" or "gods" in a very different way than humans who have a penchant for making things like watches?

The Christian God, in other words, and in fact all human Gods, are all too human to be gods in any real sense. And the fact that they are singularly obsessed with the comings and goings of humans makes Him/them as insecure as a teenage school girl pining away over the star football player at her high school.  

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Devil's Universe

The theological questions raised by the prospects of a multiverse are as infinite as they are fascinating. Consider this:

Christians and Muslims alike tend to think in a very binary way, as if there is simply this life and the next, and the next is either an eternity in heaven or hell. But the multiverse poses an infinite array of problems to such thinking.

For example, how can we know that the universe we are trapped in is not one that the Devil created behind God's back, and that that's why everything on planet Earth is forced to survive by eating each other?

Maybe Lucifer got kicked out of heaven for demanding to be "like God," because he had, like the Wizards apprentice, stumbled upon the magic necessary for creating universes. Or perhaps, like Egor working with Dr. Frankenstein, he had learned how he could do with the raw materials that make up our physical reality, not simply all of the very same things that Christians "believe" only God himself could ever have done, but even more!

The reason such a Pandora's box of questions is worth opening is because they pose to the Christian the same problem the Christian always poses to anyone who challenges their beliefs in God.

When an atheist says to a Christian, "you can not prove your God exists," many Christians will respond with the knee-jerk reflex of "and you can not prove God does not exist," as if this reflex has settled the matter, even though it hasn't

Of course, the Christian can no more prove that they are not completely insane, and simply very talented at hiding such a fact, than the atheist can prove there is no God.

But if you propose to the Christian that perhaps our own universe was actually created by Satan while God wasn't looking, as Bertrand Russell has suggested, they suddenly find themselves in the awkward position that they always seek to put atheists in.

In other words, the atheist can not prove that God does not exist anymore than the Christian can prove that our particular universe was not made by Lucifer when God wasn't looking.

Indeed, for all we know there are more universes than there are grains of sand in all of the deserts and beaches in the world, each one like a hollow ping pong ball filled with galaxies, black holes, and all the rest.

Further still, how could we ever know whether each of those universes was necessarily created by a single God alone, or by an assortment of Gods working together, or if each universe in a multiverse was created by a single God, with there being as many universes as there are Gods who created them, like children creating dioramas for school.

And what's more, what if all of those other universes are better than the one we inhabit, or worse, or are we smack in the middle? Should we call whatever "being" or "consciousness" (that we, out of a sense of our own self importance, simply assume must have intended to create this universe, and for no other reason than out of "love" specifically for humans alone and above all others creatures) "God," regardless of whatever the intentions were for that "being" to have created such a place? Even if in doing so, such a "being" was trying to create a place that seemed to resemble hell more often than heaven?

Friday, June 2, 2017

House of Cards

It's ironic that it was only after people thought up the concept of God that we may have ever started treating each other like the devil.

If you watch House of Cards, what is interesting to notice is how Francis and Claire Underwood are like Adam and Eve, with America being a "garden of Eden" compared to much of the world, and the apple that dangles before them is power; power to hold central control over the Garden of Earth, which was the same power that Satan tempted Christ with in the desert; power to shape perceptions, especially your own, so you can act "like God," by acting like Satan to ensure people "believe" you're their Savior.

Or as Shakespeare put in in Hamlet, "And thus I clothe my naked villainy / With old odd ends stolen forth from holy writ/And seem a saint when most I play the devil."

As such, given the amount of murder and lies that they are willing to engage in, we can also think of the Underwood's as the personification of pure evil. It's easy to look at Francis Underwood and see Damien Thorn, for example. And all for the purpose of obtaining and maintaining power. 

Yet we can also see the Underwood's as personifications of the Catholic Church, since the Church has similarly engaged murders and lies t obtain and maintain power, as has God himself, according to the Old Testament.

In short, power is power, and whether it is God or the devil, or even earthly principalities, the results are always the same. 


Thursday, June 1, 2017

On Mistakes

Thomas Jefferson once wrote that "Mistakes are the stuff of which the web of life is made, and he who lives longest only spins out the more of it."

Every single person in history, that we revere, love, and admire today, for their courage to do what was right, started out being hated by the majority. They are like Juror 8 in Twelve Angry Men, played by Henry Fonda, who everyone opposes and some even hate, until he is able to win them over, one by one, to seeing things more clearly, to seeing the "truth."

It is only later in history, from Christ to Martin Luther King or Mohammad Ali, that societies recognize them as hero's for trying to improve humanity. The majority always sees them as an enemy to humanity at the time, however.

So it is with our mistakes, that we often think we are doing something right even when it turns out later to have been a huge mistake. It is often only after an outcome, that we can know whether to label a past decision right or wrong, good or bad. And always determining those values by using each event that follows thereafter as the lens, which is to say the value we assign to a decision as "right" or "wrong" changes with our assessment of each event that follows.    

The Apple Is Every "Sin"

Christian's think the Genesis story in the Bible, about how Adam and Eve disobeyed by eating an apple in the Garden of Eden, only tells about "original sin," when in fact, it is the story of "every sin." And the story of Christ as being about a God who became man to redeem us for that "original sin," when if fact it is also the story of how mankind is God, in a sense, which is why the Catholic's say that "the Body of Christ" is humanity. But in that same sense, humanity is also the devil and the serpent.

Every good and every evil that humanity exhibits and endures, is an act of charity or cruelty that it alone visits upon itself. The story of Christ, in this sense, is simply an allegory, using a "man-God" as a metaphor for mankind, with every drop of blood that drips from "the body of Christ" representing the poor and the oppressed, who all must suffer what they must, at the brutal yet indifferent hands of the powerful, who everywhere do what they can.  

Or as Thucydides put it, "Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must." — This quotation is part of the Melian dialogue (Strassler (1996), 352/5.89).

"All the Gods, all the heavens, all the hells are within you," wrote Joseph Campbell, and in this same way, each of us is as often a Christ to someone as they are the devil to someone else. And what's really ironic is how often those who seek to avoid the latter by striving publicly to be what they think they must for former, end up getting it the other way around.

Religion is a disease masquerading as it’s own cure.